“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend." - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tipping Point

I had an experience last night that normally would be too painful and personal to share -- except that I know that many of you have been here before.

My husband and I met with our very well-intentioned ecclesiastical leader. He wanted to know what he could do to help our family, and he was also there to counsel us on what improvements we could do, as well. I must say, he approached the meeting with love and concern. This is a very good man, whom I love and respect as well. He is not, however, very well-spoken -- he's a man who has worked the land all his life, so he can be a pretty blunt.

He encouraged us to set stronger boundaries and responsibilities for our children. He told my husband that, although he works hard starting up our new business, he can't take it easy at home. He needs to be the enforcer and work alongside the kids to keep their feet to the fire. All very welcome advice, I must say!

Then, he told me he was going to likewise be blunt with me. He said, "I know you have a problem. Get over it."


I tried to explain that I have a medical condition, and that I have been trying to "get over it" for the last two and a half years. He kept repeating, "I know you have a 'problem'" but would not actually concede it was a real medical condition. He then went on to tell me stories about people who defied modern medicine and were healed -- a girl who was told she would never walk, who walked; and then she was told she would never run, and she ran. A boy who had asthma so bad that he was tented three times and his parents were told there was nothing more to do for him who eventually went on to play varsity basketball. A woman who had double vision but taught herself how to play the piano.

Would he have told me to "get over it" if I had MS? Or cancer? Or a stroke? If I were a paraplegic, would he tell me I could get up and walk -- if I only had enough faith?

My shock and disbelief overshadowed one bit of counsel that was actually appropriate: he suggested that I not allow my "problem" to consume my attention, my focus, and my life.

What if, instead of buying into the stigma that people with CFS are lazy, crazy, or depressed, he had been informed about CFS? Maybe he could have counseled me to set priorities and be aware of how I use my precious "good" hours during the day (well-needed advice, I must admit; I can waste time sometimes). Maybe I would have left with some ideas that would strengthen me as a wife and mother, that would bless our family. Maybe I wouldn't have come home and cried myself to sleep.

So, I have been nervous about starting my e-mail campaign for ME/CFS Awareness. I know that this is exactly what I am opening myself up to. But, this is the tipping point for me. Good people like this man need to be aware of what this disease is and what it does to people. I believe it is just like "Horton Hears a Who" -- if enough of us raise our voices, then maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to finally pierce the surface of ignorance and we will finally be heard.